Two of Victoria’s cherished grumpy old men of politics — David Anderson and Bob Plecas — have come out of retirement this week to respectively bury and resurrect the fortunes of Premier Christy Clark in the wake of her 15 seconds of money grubbing fame on the national stage.
As the whole country knows, Clark has turned her back on her fellow premiers and refused to participate in a provincially-driven national energy strategy process. It was all about the proposed Enbridge pipeline from Alberta to Prince Rupert and the premier’s demand for a bigger share of the revenue split.
Lost in the momentary excitement of Clark actually doing something at the Council of the Federation meetings in Halifax — “talking tough” as her spin doctors characterized it — was the fact that money is the least of our concerns back home.
British Columbians, particularly our First Nations, are strongly opposed to this pipeline and its attendant oil tanker traffic. In the context of Enbridge’s deplorable oil spill track record across North America the depth of the money pit is irrelevant.
If anyone in Victoria is entitled to an informed opinion it should be Bob Plecas, an outstanding mandarin and strategist throughout the Social Credit/Liberal era. In his reflective years Plecas is often heard on local radio dispensing his free enterprise grounded thoughts on the political scene.
In an effort to prop up the premier on her return from Halifax, Plecas rushed into print with a lengthy Vancouver Sun opinion piece declaring that “Christy Clark came of age … with her announcement on the Enbridge pipeline.”
Gone, he declared, was the “thin and facile” Christy. The smile “has been replaced with tough action. She finally stood up for British Columbia on a very hard issue.”
In the task of helping us believe the premier knows what she’s doing Plecas reframed her embarrassing clandestine visit with Alberta Premier Alison Redford in Edmonton ahead of the premiers’ meeting.
“Clark did the right thing and the honourable thing. She looked Redford in the eye and told her what she was going to announce. Redford did not want to hear the message. Her office leaked to the press that Clark would be there for a meeting and played petty politics. Redford proved that she does not have the strength of character of a (former premier) Peter Lougheed or Ralph Klein.”
Plecas concluded boldly: “Enbridge is Clark’s coming-out party.”
Did someone say party? Former federal environment minister David Anderson and a power pack of environmentalists, native leaders and stakeholders had a standing room only press conference in Vancouver this week where the retired Victoria MP pressed the theme that B.C.’s environmental integrity is not for sale.
“No amount of money can protect our coast and no amount of money can repair the damage of a spill of heavy Alberta crude oil,” Anderson said. “Given the poor reputation of Enbridge for environmental and worker safety, it is high time for the Enbridge Northern Gateway application to be rejected and the 40-year ban on bulk oil movements on the waters of the West Coast to be reaffirmed.”
The Plecas treatise leaves me with the impression he was well schooled for his role in the campaign to reinvent the premier. But, I suspect the majority of British Columbians will agree that Anderson and the Enbridge opponents are making the most sense on this issue. M